Running Reboot: Revenge of the Knee

In the next 12 months, I will either be almost done with the Super Awesome Year of the 5K 2.0 or I’ll have a gnarly scar on my knee.


Not that kind of scar.

This decision came about for a few reasons. 1) My weight is creeping up. Me not being able to run isn’t helping. That’s my best cardio option. 2) I’m back to doing almost everything I was before the knee blew up on me. 3) The ortho person I saw here was hesitant to cut off part of my knee cap given what the issue is. He actually listed big scar as one of the down sides like I gave two craps about that.

But if he’s hesitant to cut me open, then I might as well be too (even though I’ve basically been delaying surgery since March).

So we’re rebooting the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.

Some ground rules before we get rolling:

  1. Same as before, one a month. It’s not about doing 12 5Ks. It’s about staying consistent with running.
  2. Keep up the physical therapy-oriented activities of lifting and yoga. Part of the reason for the weight creep was the lifting and the ensuing spike in appetite, but I need to keep my legs strong.
  3. Cap my runs at 4 miles. 10Ks seem to be beyond the limit of my knee, and that’s ok, but if I can cover 3-4 miles on a regular basis, I can live with that.

That last one is a bit of a bummer considering this was supposed to be the Super Awesome Year of the 10K, but maybe my knee isn’t built for 10Ks. I was looking forward to seeing what I could do; my knee was not.

But this is all ok if I can regain my level of activity. So the journey started this week. I got my running shoes on for the first time in Oklahoma and got ready for a run/walk rotation to easy myself back into things.

Some notes:

  • They use Woodway treadmills where I’m at, and I’ve missed these bad boys. Treadmills are evil. Woodway treadmills are slightly less evil. I can’t remember which university I was at (I think UF) that had them, but I knew they were magical then. Just not as jarring to use.
  • Less jarring means less pain, but there was still some pain. It was within my regaining form threshold, so it’s nothing to note. Certainly better than I was when I was doing PT, so either things are better or the treadmill really is making a difference.
  • My cardio is crap. I knew this, but it’s a different thing to feel it.

But that was day 1. And now I live in Oklahoma where winters are winter. I’m going to miss Mississippi when I’m freezing my ass off in January. At least I’ll be running (or my knee will have fallen off and I’ll get that stupid surgery)



Let’s Talk About Recovery

As I slowly return to the world of the normal, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to maintenance. I try to do a lot for maintenance. Take away my knee, and I’m trying to do even more.

Why do we do recovery? 1) It feels good. 2) It (might) help. I say might because some of these aren’t necessarily proven to work so much as make you feel better, which then might help. The science of recovery is weird.

This episode of The Runner’s World Show actually delves into a business in Chicago (The Edge Athlete Lounge) that focuses on recovery. It’s like a regular gym, but they add in a heavy emphasis on recovery at $125 a month lowest cost (we won’t go into how this inherently caters to the wealthy who already have more access to recovery sources than middle-to-low-income folks).

But me? I can’t afford that. Ok, I might be able to afford that, but I’m not paying and I don’t live in Chicago.

I have to make other arrangements.

So I foam roll – This takes an astonishingly short amount of time, it’s the only thing that lets me function the day after a hard workout, and I just don’t do it often enough. But when I do? Oof. It’s magic.

I stretch – This may be the most consistent thing I keep getting recommended. In a bygone age, I could stand on 45-pound bumper plates and touch the ground. Now, I can barely touch my toes, and that’s an improvement. Between my back, knee, and chest, I’m supposed to stretch out pretty everything from head to toe. I need to start getting compulsive about stretching. As it is, my muscles, especially my legs, are loaded springs.

I yoga (uncomfortable stretching plus some strength) – This doesn’t have the same magic for recovery as a foam roller, but it’s the most important thing I do to remain functional long-term. You can only imagine the betrayal I felt when not only was my knee keeping me away from yoga but there’s a chance that yoga did me in. I couldn’t stay away. For my day-to-day life, this is the best thing I can do, so even if I’m limited, I’m going to find a way.

And I sleep – This one’s my favorite. I like my 8 hours at night. I’d like 9 even better. I like my naps. I like to eat breakfast, and then go right back to sleep for another hour or so. I like to curl up in my blankets in the winter in a quilted cocoon. I like to throw an exercise mat on the ground and get my afternoon nap. And why do I like sleep? Because my body craves it. That’s when I recover. No stress, no activity. Just sleep. Just rest. And you know what? I think I’ll sleep again tonight. I’ll probably sleep again tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

What do you do for recovery?

Run-up to the 10K (get it?)

My foot is still twingy. My legs are shot. My back hurts. And my respiratory system still isn’t fully recovered from my cold.

Did I mention I have a 10K coming up?

This won’t be terribly detailed, but I felt like it was as good a time as any for a pre-race progress report. After the 5K weekend, I got sick. That was a week of the cold, followed by a week of my sinuses being perpetually clogged. Once I thought I was in the clear, I was still dealing with drainage that likes to thicken and lodge in my throat. Oh what fun.

But I’m still here.

I’m four days into the Super Awesome Month of Yoga, and I haven’t missed yet (and there was a bonus yoga day at the end of April). This has had an interesting effect when you throw in that I covered 4 miles for the first time in more than a month yesterday. My body is basically rebelling at the moment.

But again, I’m still here.

I feel like the lead character in Angus yelling at James Van Der Beek at the end of the movie.

But yeah, I’m not doing terribly fantastic. April was a wash and derailed hopes of approaching a respectable 10K time. Luckily, I never set a time goal (you’ll note this was a trend last year as well). My goal is to make it to the end as quickly as I can get my 180 pounds to cover 10 kilometers.

In terms of actual race plan, I’m going to do something new: a prescribed run-walk cycle. Typically, I just run ’til I can’t, walk until I’m ok, and then start over. This leads to progressively shorter running cycles where I’m actually running faster each time. The plan, as of now, is to cycle running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute. It’s more walking than I’d like, but I’ve only crossed 4 miles once in this training cycle and I’ve never crossed 5 miles. Basically, I’m not setting myself up for success.

The yoga challenge has also thrown a wrench into the system. My weekend class left me sore because I’d had a long layoff period, which then made my run feel a lot like death, which then made me skip yoga class today (though I did do a light session out of a book). While I know this is good for me, the timing isn’t overly fantastic when you toss in the injuries, travel, and cold that April gave me.

But again, I’m still here.

I’m not (overly) injured. I have a plan to not overexert myself. And I’ve got you, whomever you are, amorphous blogger community.

As for the run-up to the actual race, I’m going to plug in one more long run and possibly a 2-miler. For the long-run, I’m going to do the run/walk cycle I’m planning for the race for 5 miles. And because I’m still doing yoga, I’ll probably do one more class, maybe two if timing works out alright, but I’ll otherwise have to stick to lighter sessions to save my legs.

This is terrifying. 5Ks are enough to eat my lunch, and now I’m doubling the distance under less than stellar circumstances. This will make a good story.

Let’s complain about some things

After the last post seemed to actually involve some thought, I thought it was time to return to my roots of complaining about random things.

Today we’ll be complaining about my creaking, old body.

I may not be quite at 30 yet (I’m a very old 29), but pretty sure some parts failed before their warranty was due. Right now, my knee, shoulder, and back are all staging various insurrections.

Let’s start with the knee. Something happened when I was a teenager, and I’ve slowly felt my right knee get comparatively weaker, leading to more reliance on my left knee, which continues to make the left knee stronger than the right.

I never knew what the issue was, but I knew certain things exacerbated things. I can’t leave my knee bent, and there’s a sensitive spot on my kneecap. That said, I also can have all symptoms disappear for weeks at a time, including the kneecap sensitivity.

Finally, I saw a doctor about it and got diagnosed with runner’s knee (well, the more medical sounding name, but Google tells me that’s the same as runner’s knee). This is obnoxious mostly because I suffer from runner’s knee even when I’m not running. The treatment at this point is strengthening some muscles and improving flexibility in others. Hopefully knowing exactly what’s going on will help (of course, if there was a misdiagnosis, the Super Awesome Year of the 5K could get really fun in the middle of a run if something pops that shouldn’t).

Next, let’s talk about my back. I’m sure I’ve bemoaned the aches and pains before. I originally hurt my back as a freshman in high school, but I didn’t realize what I had done until I was done with sports. Once I got inactive, then the aches and pains started. Now I just play a game of maintaining enough activity to avoid pain without causing new types of pain.

This problem is complicated by me working a desk job and having crappy posture. I’ve actually looked into a posture tracker to try to mitigate the problems.

Basically, I’m most days there are aches and pains, but they’re usually manageable. Some days, though, I have no further ambitions than laying on the floor and staying there the rest of the day.

And last, my newest issue: my stupid right shoulder. A couple of weeks ago, I tweaked my shoulder lifting. I noticed it didn’t feel great, but things didn’t seem that far out of the ordinary until I was doing yoga later and the instructor pressed on my shoulders and the right was sore and the left was not.

That’s not supposed to happen.

Sure enough, the next day my shoulder hurt and would continue doing so for the next week, with some pain lingering even after that.

The doctor’s visit didn’t yield much for this issue beyond strengthening rotator cuff to see if it would help.

So long story short, I wrote a post a few days ago and it seemed alright. I couldn’t take leaving things on a good note for so long, therefore I had to complain about things I’ve probably already complained about.

Party on, Wayne.